OKC Thunder: The importance of guaranteeing Kenrich Williams

OKC Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

After the OKC Thunder traded Steven Adams during the 2020 offseason, they received the next fan favorite as one of the players in return. Kenrich Williams signed a three-year, $6.0 million deal as a sign and trade as part of the deal.

The first season of this deal was guaranteed for $2.0 million, with the other two years of the deal being non-guaranteed, also at $2.0 million each season. For a team in the middle of a rebuild, this contract is gold, particularly with the way that Williams played.

Williams quickly became a fan favorite with the way that he hustled for the ball, He averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.8 assists in 21.6 minutes per game. He played so well for the Thunder that he even started 13 of the 66 games that he played.

Why it is so important for the OKC Thunder to guarantee Kenrich Williams’ contract.

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There are a couple of reasons that it is so important to guarantee Williams’ deal. The first reason is that other teams are looking at some of the Thunder’s players who may be able to help them as they go for a championship.

Williams’ hustle is his greatest asset, it cannot be taught. We all know that a championship can be decided by a single play. If Williams is part of the team, you can rest assured he will be on the ground first, diving for a ball. He will hustle hard on defense, making the vital play to stop a score. He also hustles on offense, getting his team multiple extra shots.

Then there is the message that guaranteeing Williams’ deal sends. Williams is not the most talented player to play the game yet he is getting millions of dollars to play the game of basketball at the highest level. Younger players respond to this sort of message and this makes the team harder to beat.

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The Thunder have stockpiled their resources well for this rebuild. However, assets only tell one part of the story. What happens on the court is also extremely important. While success is measured by wins and losses, the culture which is being built is the most important baseline. Williams is the type of player who is key to the culture of the franchise.